Tag Archives: edtech

Get Your Game On: Boost Content Area Learning with Gamification Guest Blog Post for Project ReimaginED – ISTE

The following post was written and published for ISTE Project ReimaginED.

Gamification is about transforming the classroom environment and regular activities into a game. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into the content area classroom to promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether teachers are looking to bring in some aspect of gaming into their class or utilize a game platform across the curriculum, they can bring in elements of gamification to enhance learning and student engagement, tap into Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and attain ISTE Standards.

I first gamified my middle school English class last year and I have continued this quest for a second consecutive year. The response from my students has been positive and enthusiastic. Participation has increased among my students and students are inclined to do additional work for the game. Within my classroom I have eliminated homework grades in lieu of game points and on a weekly basis I have students battle each other for powers and privileges. Privileges include asking the Gamemaster (aka, the teacher) if her/his answer to a question is correct on a test and getting an extension on an assignment. Students earn points by being positive and hardworking in class, correctly answering a question in class, or helping another student. At the same time, students can also lose points by disrupting the class or coming to class unprepared. I am currently using Class Craft, an awesome gaming platform that has allowed me to turn my classroom into a role playing adventure. My students sign a “Hero Pact” which articulates the rules and goals of the game and they have Avatars. As the Gamemaster, I am able to customize the rules to fit my students needs.

Good gamification promotes problem solving and collaboration and failure is an essential source of feedback and learning.  Gamification is not worksheets for points; facts and information are used as tools for learning and assessment. Effective games are customized to different learners and  students are encouraged to take risks and seek alternative solutions. In classrooms today, it’s not only about learning content material. Students must experience and build the necessary skills to be creators, innovators, and problem solvers in order to develop critical thinking and improve academic achievement.

Here are some ideas to promote transformative learning experiences with gamification.

Collaboration & Teamwork

The Beatles sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends,” and I transfer this principle to my classroom with gamification. Learning is not an isolated task. When students work collaboratively, there is more ownership of the material and more opportunities to contribute in class.  In my classroom students are assigned a team. Each team comprises four or five students, depending on the class size. Students work both independently and cooperatively within our gaming structure to earn powers than unlock privileges. Because I teach English, the team names are based on genres, authors, and book titles from Young Adult Literature. For example, in one class,  team names are based on current fantasy based young adult literature—Potter, Eregon, Everlost, and Land of Nod—and in another class team names are based on contemporary YA dystopian texts—5th Wave, Divergent, Legend, Matrix, and Rook.  Teachers can have students pick their own team names for ownership in the game.

ISTE Standards for Students #2, Creativity and Innovation, states: “Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively … to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.” Working collaboratively helps students enhance their oral communication skills and meet the Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1). Students meet this CCSS by working in cooperative groups and teams, and then participating in “conversations and collaborations with diverse partners.” Teamwork and collaboration requires students to listen to one another and broaden their roles as dominant speakers in the classroom, rather than a teacher presenting and students only listening. As teammates, students “work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.B) Working with student teams also requires teachers to model and practice how to work well with one another and resolve conflicts in positive ways addressing ISTE Standards for Teachers  1.d: “Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.”

Challenges & Quests

Design a quest or challenge that sparks learning and engagement. While my students are reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, I have them complete a “Mockingbird Amazing Race” QR Code Quest. Each team of students is given a map with QR codes that takes them around the school to complete text based activities. Students use their mobile devices to read the QR Codes at the different stations and complete the challenges. I designed the Mockingbird Amazing Race for students to “apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information” (ISTE Standards for Students #3, Research and Information Fluency) about the text and and standards.

World History teacher Michael Matera uses simulations as a teaching tool with his sixth grade students. He designed a China Silk Road Simulation to bring to life entrepreneurship, supply and demand, the power of negotiation, and the costs and benefits of technology for society. He describes all the ingredients and directions for the simulation on his blog. The goal of the simulation is to have a rich product diversity without conflict. Throughout the simulation, Matera stops to ask questions to the groups about their choices and their connections to the learning objectives.

Leveling Up

Some students are motivated by badges or points. In my classroom, points unlock powers. Powers are important features that represent privileges players earn as they progress in the game. Some powers are cooperative where others only benefit the individual player. With Class Craft, players must level up to earn Power Points so that they can unlock new powers. Once a power has been learned, they can use it for the rest of the game. Some individual powers have nothing to do with English but they are still fun. When my first ten students earned over 1,000 points, I brought in doughnuts for them to eat during class. Many of my students are working towards the power that gives them access to their notes during a test.  The key is that leveling up, badges, and points track mastery.  Students can even contribute to how they earn the points and suggest powers or privileges.  Gamification facilitates more responsibility on the part of the student to take charge of their learning.

Wheel of Destiny

Want to inject a bit of a lottery system or the selection process from the reaping in The Hunger Games, but with less deadly consequences? Utilize a Wheel of Destiny or Random Name Generator to select students to complete a mission or answer a question. Students will be sitting on the edge of their chairs, but the spontaneous, random events/selection gets everyone involved. Good games are not predictable. And as with all games so too in your classroom: predictable can quickly become all too boring. Keep students on their toes and engaged in the game with random selection and events.

Boss Battles

Transform assessments with Boss Battles. A “boss” in gaming is a villain who the hero must face and defeat to save the day. Think of the monster at the end of each level in the original Super Marios Bros. who must be defeated before moving to the next level.  The boss is the final challenge a player faces and utilizes his or her skills and abilities to defeat the boss. Boss Battles can be used as reviews or as a test. Check out how Mallory Kesson of Gamindex uses Boss Battles in her classroom by posting multiple choice questions on the SMARTBoard and giving students 30 seconds to select the correct answer. If the student answers incorrectly, the boss will attack. If a teammate has the correct answer, a student can dodge the attack, but if you miss, the entire team takes damage and loses points. When Boss Battles ask higher order thinking questions, students are “using critical thinking skills to plan and solve problems, and make informed decisions,”thus meeting ISTE Standard for Students #4, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.

Teacher as Gamester

Gamification can be lots of fun for students and teachers alike. At the same time, gamification can help students build skills and confidence. In gamifying one’s class, the learning goals and objectives should be the guide. Think about how you will assess your students and help them meet the learning targets. Gamification privileges and powers have replaced extra credit in my classroom. As a reminder, homework in my class is not graded, but students earn Class Craft points. All tests, quizzes, and assessments that measure learning goals are uploaded onto Class Craft for additional points. Students are not penalized grade-wise if their work is late because they are graded based on the standards; however, in the game they deal with the damage of that lateness and can fall in battle. As the Gamemaster, one must be consistent and fair, adjust settings for different groups of students, and create flexible learning goals to meet the needs of all students. Effective Gamemasters “model and apply the ISTE Standards for Students as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning.”

If you are considering implementing gamification into your classroom, check out Class Craft or read Michael Matera’s book, Explore Like a PIRATE: Gamification and Game-Inspired Course Design to Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your Learners. As the Gamemaster, you have the ability to transform your classroom with games, quests, and adventures that can inspire and empower student learners.

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Get Your Game On: Boost Content Area Learning with Gamification: ISTE Webinar

A follow up to my last blog post, here are the presentation slides for the webinar I lead for ISTE on 12/3/2015. To listen the the webinar Click Here.

List of resources mentioned in the webinar are below:

James Paul Gee’s article on Elements of Good Games to model as Educational Tools

Classcraft

Games for Change

Hour of Code

Michael Matera’s Entering the Realm of the Nobles

TED Talks About Gamification 

Education Arcade (MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program)

 

 

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Twitter in the K 12 Classroom: A Collaborative Tool For Learning ISTE Webinar

As part of the ISTE Professional Learning Series I hosted a webinar on Twitter in the K 12 classroom. Below are the slides to my presentation. Here is a link to the archived webinar. I have compiled additional resources on a Google Doc Some people have requested to see the Parent Permission and Code of Conduct that I sent home for parents and students to sign before beginning the twitter book chats with my middle school students.

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Storytelling, Discussion, & Analysis: Twitter As a Classroom Tool for Middle School Students

This past week ISTE’s Literacy Special Interest Journal published its third issue. I contributed an article on using twitter for book chats with my eighth grade students. I have cut and pasted the article below to share. To check out the entire journal with lots of great articles that address different technologies and literacy I have pasted a link at the bottom of this post.

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In 140 characters or less, meaningful conversations can occur. In my four years of using Twitter as a personal professional development tool, I have learned from amazing people on Twitter and collaborated with many educators around the world in order to improve my teaching and strengthen my students’ learning. As result of my experience in utilizing this social media tool for professional growth and learning, I knew that there was an opportunity for me to share this technology with my students to empower them as readers, writers, and global citizens.

Twitter is a powerful online social media tool that allows people to engaged in conversations and discuss topics that are relevant to their lives. Ninety eight percent of my students are already using social media and have personal computers, tablets, and or mobile devices. Twitter was a technology tool that some were using socially, in addition to Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. As their teacher, and a person who embraces technology in her classroom, I wanted to show my students how we can utilize Twitter as an educational tool for learning and also promote positive digital citizenship.

It all began when I read a blog post on The Nerdy Book Club blog by young adult author, James Preller in November 2013 on the power of story and how “stories are essential to our lives.”  I was so moved by the blog post, I immediately bought his book Bystander, a fictional story about bullying at a middle school in Long Island.  As a middle school teacher, this topic is pertinent to my teaching and my quest to promote empathy within school culture. As I devoured the book, I realized that I wanted all my students to read Bystander and the power of its story as it relates to our school and culture where bullying is a daily occurrence.  Hence, I assigned Bystander as a required reading for my eighth grade English students for their outside reading requirement.  In addition to reading the book, I wanted to engage my students in authentic discussions about the book and share their responses, connections, and questions about the book.  A huge proponent of Twitter as a professional development tool, I required my students to participate in four Twitter book chats after school hours to address the complex characters and issues raised in the book. Since our lives are so packed with activities, homework and family time, I knew designating a time to a Twitter-based conversation about the book would gain more participants in the outside reading assignment.

My eighth grade students are required to read one outside reading book each quarter and complete an assessment project on the book. My students who are interested in taking Honors classes in High School are required to read two outside reading books each quarter and complete two projects. I offer students a list of recommended titles the beginning of each quarter based on genre (non fiction, graphic novels, memoirs, etc.) or theme (World War II and social injustice texts to align with Social Studies) for students to choose an outside reading book.  Although, bullying is a topic that students are bombarded with in school with special assemblies and Health classes, it was never a topic in our English class readings and discussions. I was so moved by James Preller’s Bystander  and bothered by the covert bullying throughout the school I might see or hear about that I decided that it would be an all grade read for my students. There were a few complaints and groans when I introduced the book as a book about bullying in a middle school. For the most part, the majority of my students enjoyed the book and the Twitter book chat discussions even more.

When I introduced the assignment to my classes I included a reading schedule with set dates for the Twitter chats meetings and a Twitter Permission Letter/ Code of Conduct to be shared with their parents and guardians,  to be signed and returned to me. I organized the Twitter book chats weekly for forty five minutes  for five consecutive weeks to discuss the text, share our thoughts, make connections, and ask questions. I really wanted students to talk with one another about the text, rather than just answer my questions I posted about the book.  The Twitter permission letter to families addressed my intentions and objectives in utilizing Twitter for this assignment. To confirm that parents received and read the letter, I required parents and guardians and my students to sign the letter and return it  to me prior to the first Twitter book chat. Out of ninety-three students, I had over sixty students participating in the Twitter book chats.

The week before our first Twitter book chat I held a meeting after school to introduce Twitter to the students and offer a “how-to” demonstration in setting up a Twitter account and using Twitter. Each student was given a cheat sheet that covered the Dos and Don’ts of Tweeting and explained an anatomy of a Tweet. I recommended students who already had a Twitter account to make a new account specifically for our class project so that I do not have access to their pictures from the weekend parties and other social media sharing they do with their friends. I was clear in reminding students that we were using Twitter for educational purposes and that my own account is for that, I do not share pictures of my family and food or discuss personal matters online.  For me, Twitter is strictly professional and used in a positive manner.

Students used a hashtag to follow the Twitter conversation and be included in the book chat. Google defines a hashtag as “a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.” Our hashtag was #RMSBystander and with each new book and Twitter chat we included a hashtag that included the book title and “RMS,” the initials of our middle school.  Every time a student tweeted, he or she included the hashtag in their tweet.

Everyone had a voice on Twitter and no one was able to hide during the discussions. During the Twitter book discussions students shared their own stories, made connections, and critically addressed the issue of bullying in our school and society at large.  I was impressed by their honesty and keen awareness.  I did start off the Twitter chat by asking questions for students to respond to throughout the Twitter chat but that always lead to deeper conversations and comments posted by my students responding to one another. The students weren’t just answering the questions that I posed during the Twitter book chat but were also talking with each other in an online environment, supporting and responding to each other’s ideas. I noticed that students who might not talk to each other in class, face to face, were responding to each other online and offering constructive discussions piggy-backing on each other’s ideas. Students learned that a retweet was like a high five, pointing out an insightful comment and students looked forward to me retweeting their comments or looked for one another to retweet in agreement or support. Positive communication was modeled throughout the Twitter discussions.

Student conversations on Twitter weaved in and out of the text with comments and side conversations about our own school. Students admitted that bullying is a huge problem in many schools across across the United States, and our own school is not immune. Social media sometimes becomes a means in which bullying takes place.  But, by facilitating the Twitter chats, I wanted to promote Twitter as a social media tool in a responsible and educational manner.  I was impressed by my students honesty about bullying in our school and shared the archived chat with my school principal and school social worker to highlight the conversations that one teacher and a her students were having about bullying and one book about bullying. My students were excited about the Twitter book discussions and asked for more book discussions online. As one of my students replied at the end of the chat, “This chat allowed me to think of the reading in new ways.”

After the series of Twitter Chats on Bystander, our second Twitter book chat was with the book The Wave by Todd Strasser. Written in 1981, The Wave is based on a true incident that occurred in a high school history class in Palo Alto, California, in 1969. A high school teacher introduces a new “system” into his classroom to promote learning and success and  illustrates how propaganda and peer pressure help Nazism rise in Germany in the 1930s. Students were studying World War II in their Social Studies class and Strasser’s text helps to extend the conversations about injustice and history outside of the classroom. Currently, my students are reading and tweeting about I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Reader’s Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick. With each of the books read and discussed students make connections and judgements across texts, drawing conclusions, and sharing big ideas that surface from reading and conversing about the text. In our Twitter chats the students are engaged and responding to one another. The Twitter book chats help students monitor comprehension, merge their thinking with new ideas, react to, respond to, and often question the information.

Twitter is one digital media tool that can be used effectively for discussing stories and the powerful impact they have on our lives. Twitter also allows space for students to critically discuss topics that are relevant to their lives and share stories,  images, and other links to meaningful texts that address the same topics.  Twitter helps extend classroom discussions outside the classroom and for students to deepen their thinking through tweeting about reading. Through my experiences using Twitter in the classroom, I have been able to capture the “richness” of conversations and the “complexity of experiences” when sharing stories.

 

Twitter Resources for Teachers

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything Twitter

A Teacher’s Guide to Twitter (Edudemic)

50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom via TeachHUB

EDUHACKER’s Teaching with Twitter

To read through the entire ISTE Literacy Special Interest Journal (3rd Issue):

http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com/2015/03/literacyspecialinterest-issue.html

I will be leading a webinar on Twitter in the K12 classroom for ISTE on 3/26 at 4 PM PT.  The webinar is free for ISTE members. To register for the webinar click here.

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Lights, iMovie, Action: 10 Video Project Ideas Students Can Create in Any Content Area

After a recent #edchat this week on activities to try with our students in the new school year, the topic of video production came up. I love having my students create videos and I have compiled a list of a dozen different video projects I have done with my students that can be adapted in any content area classroom.

Majority of my students have smart phones and use the video camera on the phone to make their movies. We have come to love Vimeo, iMovie, and VideoStar apps for easy movie making, editing, and uploading onto the web. Students upload their videos directly to youtube or email me their video file to add to our class playlist. I usually offer a video project every month with some that are two day projects and other’s can take weeks.

1. Book Trailers – The first month of school I had students make a book trailer for their favorite summer reading book. Here are a few of my student’s trailers.

2. Character Music Videos – When we read Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None students selected one of the characters, choose a theme song for the character, and created a music video to convey the character. Here is the assignment:

3. Art Comes to Life – Inspired by a wordless picture book, students used an image from Chris Van Allsberg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a catalyst to create a video that expanded on the mystery of the picture presented in the book. Here is one student example:

4. Films Genre Project- A lot of times I give my students choices with the projects they create in my classroom. When students were studying Shakespeare I gave them the option to present a scene as a silent film, rap, or musical. You can have students reenact a scene using any film genre.

5. TED Talks – We all watch them. What if we had our students create a short TED Talk about their own passion and interests.

6. Prezi Screencasts – Take a prezi or powerpoint and screencast the presentation part.
Here is an example one of my students did on mobile learning for our Flat Connections global collaborative project this past spring.

7. Lego Movies – My son is obsessed with legos and he watches many lego movies online. This inspired me to get him to help me create a lego version of a few scenes from MidSummer Night’s Dream. We took still pictures of different lego scenes and screencasted the images and text together. I showed the video in class to help my students better understand the text.

8. Common Craft Videos – I love the ideas and images presented in many the Common Craft videos. Technically this is a screen cast of an illustrated presentation. You can have your students create Common Craft style videos on their own or using the Common Craft build program (depending on your budget).

9. Choose Your Own Adventure Video – Youtube has a feature that allows you to link videos within videos. Last spring my students created a series of videos that analyzed critical theories of gender, race, and class in Disney animation. We linked all the videos together allowing the viewer to choose what he or she wants to learn about. Here is the original blog post with more information how to create your own CYOA videos.

10. Stop Motion Animation – This is inspired by one of my student’s Genius Hour projects. She wanted to learn how to create a stop motion animation. Here is her video but think about the possibility of students creating a stop motion animation to explain a math or science concept. Sounds like a cool idea to me.

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Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age

Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age (ISTE, 2014) edited by Mark Gura is a compilation of eighteen different technology projects for any classroom. Tech projects include audio, video, blogging, and podcasting using web tools such as Animoto, Evernote, Wordle, and Audacity. All the chapters were written by teachers with the intention of designing classroom learning experiences that would engage students and at the same time require them to use technology tools and skills to create meaningful content.

I contributed a chapter on using podcasting to teach narrative and expository writing in my Speech and Debate class. Below are some highlights from my chapter, “Building Literacy Radiolab Style: Podcasting to Foster Speech and Debate Skills.”

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My obsession with NPR’s Radiolab began more than five years ago when I would drive home on Friday afternoon from school and listen to the weekly podcast. Somewhere in the middle of the fifth or sixth podcast I realized there was a formula to the radio show and it mirrored an informational speech. Only, the podcast was enhanced by various sound effects and audio clips to draw my attention to the show and it’s content. I also realized that the majority of the topics presented were science based, and even though science was never my passion, the show’s format helped me to engage, empathize, and reflect on the scientific elements presented. Soon, my listening to the show was not only for enjoyment, but to deconstruct and study the craft of the show and think about how to apply this in my classroom.

I wrote down all the engaging transitions and really paid attention to how support material was weaved into the show to present information and inform the listener. I created an entire handout for my students with all the “moves” I heard the Radiolab hosts, Jad and Robert, say throughout various podcasts. These transitions benefited the listeners by inferring what they needed to do with the information presented.

The end result after having my students listen and study different Radiolab podcasts was for my students to partner up and create their own Radiolab style shows. Students wrote, edited, and recorded their own podcasts with added listening effects. Overall, the project was successful and Radiolab is still is my favorite show on NPR!

For more specifics about the assignment and process of creating the podcasts you can check out Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age: Inspiration for all levels and literacies edited by Mark Gura.

 

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10 Ways to Use Mobile Devices in Your Classroom Tomorrow

This past month I was asked by my principal to present at our faculty meeting some ideas about using mobile devices in the classroom.  Since 99% of the teachers I work with have a mobile phone, I presented ten different ideas teachers can use mobile phones as a learning and teaching tool in the classroom.  At the beginning of the meeting I asked all faculty members to brainstorm the ways that they use their mobile device on a daily basis.  We acquired a long list that ranged from texting and taking photos to updating their Facebook page and talking on the phone.  Our list then led me into talking about how we can use our mobile devices as teaching tools.  Below are ten different ideas I shared for any content area.

1. Poll Everywhere – Students can use their mobile device to take a poll or survey.

2. Video Exit Slip – Rather than ask students to write down three things they learned, as students are leaving the classroom, video record (using a cell phone or ipad) student responses to a particular question.

3. Photograph Student Work – A great way to document student learning, you can use your phone to take pictures of student projects and then post them on a class blog or Wiki.  I took pictures of my students’ projects and then put all the photos together in a slide show using Animoto.

4. Audio Recordings – Have student record their small group discussions or oral presentation.  One idea that was shared with me at a workshop was having Spanish students create their own short telanovelas (Spanish Language Soap Operas) and then post them onto a classroom blog.  Students can also listen to podcasts on their phones.

5. QR Code Questsqr code activity

6. Digital Scavenger Hunts – Similar to QR Code Quests, a cellphone can be used to create a virtual scavenger hunt, sending students clues that they have to complete or comprehend to complete an activity.

7. More with Photos & Video – Students can use their cameras to document science experiments or images from a field trip and then catalogue them on a classroom Flickr account.

8. – Evernote – If you are someone who likes to capture things that you want to remember or use later, Evernote lets you snap photos, record some audio, and save it in one place.  You can also share your notes with others so it is great for comparing and compiling data for a classroom project.

9. Cel.ly  – There are many online tools that send text messages to subscribers reminding students about homework assignments or projects.  This tool can help students stay organized and offer reminders for students who need a nudge.

10. Twitter – Whether it is for a teacher’s personal use or classroom back channel, Twitter is one of my top three among social media that I use on a daily basis.  Students can use Twitter for posting quick thoughts, questions, or reactions to class room assignments and readings.

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Techerentiation: Differentiating with Technology

I have created a new word:  Techerentiation

It means to differentiate with technology.  Differentiation is a buzzword in the education world.  Teachers are being asked to provide alternative ways to help student learn.  Differentiation provides students with choices or options based on their readiness, interests, and learning styles (think multiple intelligences).  Teachers differentiate content, process, and product.

Techerification also differentiates content, process, and product but is technology centered. Techerentiation involves choices for students.  Students are given choices to make personal decisions how they want to complete to demonstrate what they have learned but the choices are all technology based.  “By giving students choice, teachers promote a sense of independence and provide opportunities of personal challenge and creativity” (Peterson, 2011).

Below is a techerentiated assignment created for my Rock History class.  Students received a Menu Choice Board in which they had to choose one project in each of the different meal choices.

Appetizers included pinning a landmark on a Rock and Roll Landmark Map created using Google Maps or to add a resource to an annotated Rock and Roll History Resource List compiled in Google Docs.

The main course students could choose between creating a rock and roll musical tree of influence using an online mapping tool like Popplet or bubbl.us.  Students would have to map out the different musical influences of a particular artist going back as far as five or six generations of influence.  Or, students could choose to compile resources for a particular theme or decade in music history using Livebinders.

For dessert, all students were to complete the Rock and Roll Bingo Trivia Hunt.  For an A students had to complete the entire bingo board and get the entire bingo board correct.  For a B students completed four rows or columns and for a C students had to complete three rows or columns.

 

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Spring Debate Topics: Technology & Education

Deborah Tannen, a sociolinguist, said “the goal of debate is not to persuade a listener, but to demonstrate to a trained judge that one has beaten the arguments of one’s opponents.”

Every spring my middle school Speech and Debate students begin the debate portion of the course.  Students participate in two debates over the six week time frame.  In the second debate students select their own debate groups – both debate partners and debate opponents.  Then, determine as a group the debate topic from a list of topics created by their teacher. Students then have one week to prepare for the debate not knowing which side they will be debating until the day of the debate.  At which point, the teacher determines what side of the debate the teams will present.

Students have a week to prepare an Evidence File containing facts and support material on the topic.  Debate teams collaborate creating the Evidence File using Google Docs.  Debate teams are required to have at least forty items of evidence supporting the debate topic and distributed as follows:  20 pieces of evidence for the affirmative side of the argument and 20 pieces of evidence on negative side.  Evidence includes examples, testimony, and statistics from experts on the topic.

The debate topics for this spring include controversial topics in technology education.  Students select a topic from the list below:

  • Are desktop computer outdated?
  • Should students be allowed to use mobile devices in class?
  • Should there be a filter on the internet in school?
  • Are textbooks obsolete?
  • Should teachers friend students on Facebook?
  • Should schools provide technology devices (i.e. tablets or laptops) for all students?
  • Should Facebook have a strict 18 years and older age restriction?
  • Are computer labs outdated and still necessary in schools?

These topics are discussed among professionals in the Educational Technology field in professional journals and online. At the same time, our students can weigh in on the topics as it relates to their own academic and personal lives.  As schools carve out Internet Accessibility Policies and filter the internet, students continue to use technology outside of school for communication and creating.  Schools must integrate technology more effectively to help students learn best and promote digital citizenship.

Happy Debating!


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Summer Plans: #140edu Conference

Where will you be on August 2nd and 3rd? I will be speaking at the #140edu conference in New York City held at the 92ns Street Y. If you are not familiar with the #140 conferences, here is what you need to know: 140 Characters Conference started back in 2009 by Jeff Pulver with the idea of sharing (in real time) the effects of twitter on business and the world. The most recent #140 Conference held June 15 and 16th in New York City included speakers NBC Today’s Show host, Ann Curry, Adam Ostrow, editor in chief of Mashable, Mayor of Newark NJ, Cory Booker, Andy Carvin of NPR, and Craig Newmark, founder of Craig’s List to name a few. Each speaker gets ten minutes to talk, connect, inspire and share with the audience. You can watch the speakers from the June conference online.

This summer Jeff Pulver has partnered with Chris Lehmann, principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia to organize a conference in New York City that addresses the state of education NOW. Topics to include the current effects of technology on education and student learning from Facebook to Twitter. Both Chris and Jeff are bringing amazing people together talk about all aspects of education from classroom practice to politics. For the complete schedule of all speakers and to register see the attached links.

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